Leadership changes loom at Donoho
by Paige Rentz
Jul 19, 2013 | 5785 views |  0 comments | 59 59 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jan Hurd, left, and Karen Hester.
Jan Hurd, left, and Karen Hester.
By next summer, the Donoho School will have someone new to lead its students and staff.

President Jan Hurd and Karen Hester, dean of students, both plan to retire at the end of the coming school year.

Hurd, 61, has been with Donoho since 2000, when she retired as superintendent of schools in the Anniston public school system and took over as Donoho’s upper school principal.

After three years, she became the school’s president.

As the school celebrates its 50th anniversary, the time is right for her to devote more time to her grandchildren, she said.

“I’ve accomplished all of the things that I’ve set out to do at Donoho,” she said. “It’s just been a wonderful experience.”

Hurd said she has always been pro-technology, and is tremendously proud of the strides Donoho has made in that area. When she first arrived, she said, teachers had computers in the classroom but few knew how to use them, and some were afraid of them.

But now, teachers have smart boards and tablet computers in every classroom, and many are writing their own curricula that are accessible to students from the cloud. This year, the school is implementing a program in which every student from fourth to 12th grade must have a tablet in class.

“It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in that area,” she said.

She also noted that after operating under a deficit for several years, Donoho is entering its third year with a balanced budget.

Hurd is a product of the Anniston public school system and served for 25 years as a teacher, principal and district administrator there.

In her time at Donoho, she said, many inaugural and longtime faculty members have retired from the school.

“We’ve been able to hire some really fantastic, young, innovative teachers to take their place” she said. “It’s a synergy going on right now with everyone working together.”

Hester, 54, has been at Donoho since she was a freshman there in 1973. After earning a dual degree in physical education and English at Jacksonville State University, she returned to Donoho as a full-time faculty member in 1980. She has remained there ever since.

“I’ve never interviewed for a job, if you can believe it,” Hester said.

When Hurd became president, Hester took over as upper school principal and dean of students.

Hurd said that much of what Donoho has been able to accomplish over the years is because of her working relationship with Hester.

“We are yin and yang,” she said. “She has helped me tremendously move things forward.”

Hurd said when she comes up with ideas, Hester is key to implementing them.

“She can pull it together with the nuts and bolts and the literal thinking to make it happen,” Hurd said.

Hester said she’s taught everything from physical education to English to Latin and coached volleyball, basketball, track softball and golf over the years.

She said she will miss the students and faculty but won’t be too far from the school in retirement.

“We are leaving an outstanding faculty,” she said. “I’m really proud of them, and I know the school will be fine going forward.”

Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.

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